Left Hand, Right Hand 381

I’ve been reading comments about the Best Buy Visiontek purchases. You’d never think it was just one chain of stores.

Some people bought ahead of time went back for a pricematch, and not only got the pricematch, they ended up with the mail-in rebate
instantly credited to them, too. (One person got a double helping and ended up paying $50 for the card, even after being honest and telling the sales person it was a mistake).

Others were told they couldn’t do a pricematch, but had to do a return/rebuy. Some refused to do a return/rebuy, but only pricematched.

This may prove not to be too good, provided this message (from paig2956, towards the very end of the page) holds true:

I have called the 800 number (1-800-797-3956) twice, and received the same answer twice. Best Buy is not accepting a “pricematch” receipt for the GeForce3 rebate. I was put on hold twice as they asked higher up the chain what the policy would be, and they told me the same thing both times.

Some did neither, but did an “exchange.” Will the rebate people treat an “exchange” any differently than a pricematch? Who knows?

When I mentioned that sale, I pointed out that the official policies of Best Buy didn’t spell out price protection in this situation, that there were loopholes. I did that knowing full well that most Best Buys
would happily pricematch. Most. Not all.

Sure enough, more than a few people reported their stores refused to do anything at all. Some refused to do because they had no stock left at that point. Some refused to because it was a special sale. Some refused to because “I am the manager and I said so.”

Some of those who were refused just went to another store or just somebody else, and got it anyway.

This is what happened at Best Buy, but the same thing happens in all the other stores, too.

This Isn’t Good For Anybody

It’s not good for customers to have to play a crapshoot when sales like these come up.

Nor is it good for you, the store.

For instance, let’s assume those mail-in rebate people decide not to honor any receipt which indicates a pricematch or a previous purchase of the product. That would alienate thousands of people.

Some might say it would be just revenge against the vultures (don’t get insulted, I’m part of that clan, too) out there who clear out the shelves ahead of time and often make the notion of a sale a farce.

Indeed, the actions of vultures probably alienate many, many thousands of people who spend a lot of time waiting on line to be the first in, only to find empty shelves.

But vultures can only feed if you provide them with meat.

It’s ridiculous to have a hodgepodge of contradictory local policies and practices for a national organization when the vultures are just as “national” and have far better and faster communications than you do.

It’s even more ridiculous when it’s obvious from the vultures’ perspective that a good chunk of the organization just makes it up as they go along. That just encourages them to keep trying to hack and abuse your inadequate human system.

It’s not like these sales are a once-in-a-lifetime event. They happen often enough, and it’s not like these stores haven’t seen the vultures hovering around these items before. Is it so hard to come up with a consistent policy for these sales?

The vultures exist because your own rules and policies brought them into being. Combine a price protection policy with extremely limited supplies and no rainchecks, and it would be insane not to act like a vulture.

It’s the combination of those three policies that enable the vultures. If you don’t want vultures, you have to disconnect one of those policies.

Obviously it would be better for consumers if there were plentiful supplies and/or promptly honored rainchecks.

However, should that prove to be impossible, you should then disconnect the first if you want a level playing field. All you have to do is call it a “special sale” and make it clear your own special limited-to-supplies-at-hand sales aren’t covered by price protection/pricematching/whatever.

This isn’t much of a stretch to solve the problem: a few extra words in the ads.

Unless the stores believe that disappointing practically everyone who gets the paper that morning and then runs down to the store is somehow a great marketing strategy.

Email Ed

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